What’s Music Doc? #1- Drums at Midnight


I have had the misfortune of not able to recount the events that happened during the stroke of the midnight hour on the day of our Independence, simply because I wasn’t available, yet. But I have had the good fortune of listening to quite a few first hand accounts of the last hours that the British had in our country. Most of them recall the radio broadcasts, few local peaceful processions and unscheduled gatherings, but what does it really feel to be on the night of Independence? Relief? Well as one’s feeling is one’s own and hardly be transported to another.<Sigh>

But there are ways.

There have been numerous movies on the Independence struggle, but few have captured that night with flamboyance as Shankar did with “Kappalyeri Poyyachu” from Indian, that is the closest i have been to Aug 15th 1947, whether we laid down a monstrous effigy of John Company and danced around in clothing whose sources can be traced to all the states that were yet to be born <yikes!> remains to be seen, but then if we hadn’t danced like that on the ramparts of Gingee fort then what use of this Independence?

Cinema has a perpetual license to romanticize historical events, the song also helps the film by establishing the pain and struggle gone into getting the struggle, thus building a wall of impact for future events of country gone bad which ‘Indian’ discusses. Maybe they all sang in SPB’s voice from the fort walls looking proudly at outgoing Union Jacks, they surely should have. For many years i believed they did.

<pause and listen to how SPB pauses beautifully between “namma vaasal thedi…”>

Now no one is going to take this song as a historical document, but Shankar’s and Rahman’s imagination <choreography: Raju Sundaram, lyrics: Valee > will remain as one the best independence day celebrations.

And they say there is no use for song in films.

<What’s music doc? is an occasional short column to be put together on the influence of film music or the inability to explain the influence of film music or some such thing>